FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Patrick Mahomes (DK – $7,100/FD – $9,500): Mahomes enters Week 17 as the top QB in the land with an edge of 67 Fantasy points over the next contender in four-point TD leagues. He only needs two TDs and 184 passing yards to reach 50 passing TDs and 5,000 passing yards in his rookie season. Over his last four games, Patrick has three games with fewer than 300 yards passing and 11 TDs. In Week 13, he passed for 295 yards and four TDs vs. the Raiders on the road. Oakland ranks 24th defending QBs with only one team scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. Three QBs passed over 300 yards against the Raiders, and six teams have three TDs or more. His floor starts at 300 passing yards with four TDs with more upside if game flow works in the passing direction.
Ben Roethlisberger (DK – $7,000/FD – $8,700): The Steelers continue to find ways to lose games putting them on the doorstep of a winter vacation. Last week Roethlisberger set a career high in passing TDs (33) while being almost a lock to pass for the most yards (4,952) of his career (currently at 4,852 passing yards). Ben has five games with three TDs or more and eight games with over 300 passing yards. In Week 6, he passed for 369 yards and one TD against the Bengals. Cinci allows the second-most Fantasy points to QBs with five teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Bengals allow 8.0 yards per pass attempts with QBs tossing 31 TDs. Seven teams have over 300 passing yards and six teams with three TDs or more. An explosive matchup with the Steelers on the verge of posting a 40 burger thanks to their new spread passing formation.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
Deshaun Watson (DK – $6,600/FD – $8,200): Watson jumped to fifth in QB scoring after his best game of the season (388 combined yards with four TDs). His completion rate (73.4) has been elite over his last eight starts while delivering 19 combined TDs and two Ints. In Week 7, he passed for 139 yards and one TD against the Jaguars. Jacksonville remains a top ten defense (6th) against QBs with the last four opponents scoring fewer than 17.00 Fantasy points from the QB position. The Jaguars allow 6.7 yards per pass attempt with QBs tossing only 17 TDs on the year. Fade for me due to relatively weak receiving options behind DeAndre Hopkins.
Philip Rivers (DK – $6,400/FD – $8,000): Rivers enters Week 17 as the 11th highest scoring QB with 31 TDs and 4,132 passing yards. Philip has 13 games with two TDs or more, but he delivered only three TDs in his last three games. Rivers has five games with over 300 yards passing. In Week 11, he passed for 401 yards and two TDs against the Broncos. Denver sits 10th QB defense with no team scoring over 27.0 Fantasy points from the QB position. The Broncos allow 7.7 yards per pass attempt with QBs passing for 25 TDs. Only two teams have three TDs or more against Denver. Not ideal on the road even with some talent at WR.
Lamar Jackson (DK – $5,700/FD – $7,700): Jackson is 5-1 as a starter for the Ravens despite delivering only seven TDs with 1,381 combined yards. He averages only 22.2 passes per game, which is overcome by his high volume of runs (99/466/2). His completion rate (58.2) is reasonable while gaining 7.0 yards per completion. The Browns held QBs to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points in four straight games helping them to the 17th rating in QB defense. This season QBs have 55 rushes for 233 yards and two TDs against the Browns. An intriguing matchup for a young QB against a developing team. It's easy to bet against Cleveland's defense here, but a huge number of runs by both teams points to a lower scoring game.
Kirk Cousins (DK – $5,500/FD – $7,400): Cousins played well last week (253/3), but his success was helped by a long Hail Mary TD at halftime. Over his last 11 games, Kirk has two TDs or fewer in nine games while passing for over 300 yards only twice. The Bears held him to 262 yards and two TDs in Week 11. Chicago has the fourth best QB defense in the league with the last five opponents scoring 18.0 Fantasy points or fewer. Wrong kind of swing in a low scoring defensive battle.
Sam Darnold (DK – $5,200/FD – $7,500): Darnold improved in each of his last three games (170/1, 253/2, and 341/3) with a step forward in his completion rate (66.0). Over his first nine games, Sam had 11 TDs and 14 Ints with a short completion rate (55.0). The Patriots are 23rd vs. QBs while holding four of the last five opponents to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points to the QB position. The Jets’ receiver core has many injuries, which points to much more failure on the road. Showing signs of upside, but Jets' fans will have to wait until 2019 for another game of value.
Case Keenum (DK – $4,800/FD – $7,000): Keenum has two passing TDs or fewer in his last 14 games while passing for over 300 yards in two games. Over the stretch, Case has 14 TDs and 11 Ints. In Week 11, he passed for 205 yards and no TDs against the Chargers. LA ranks 8th against QBs with eight of their last 11 opponents scoring fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points. Tough to believe in his receiving core or his right arm in this matchup.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Mitchell Trubisky (DK – $5,700/FD – $7,600): Over the last four games, Trubisky only has five TDs and five Ints while failing to pass for over 250 yards in each contest. His value as a runner took a step back as well over this period (24/85). This season Mitchell averaged 285 combined yards at home with 21 TDs with a huge step back in success on the road (237 yards and six TDs in five games). He gained 208 combined yards with one TD in his first game against the Vikings. Minnesota pushed their way to 3rd in QB defense with the last ten opponents scoring fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points. Avoid for me.
Baker Mayfield (DK – $5,300/FD – $7,300): Over the last nine games, Mayfield has 20 TDs and six Ints with improvement in his completion rate (69.4). Baker went 5-1 in his last six starts. He's passed for over 300 yards in two games in 2018 with the first coming against the Ravens (342/1). Mayfield has three games with three TDs or more. Baltimore ranks second in QB defense with six teams scoring fewer than 10.0 Fantasy points. Even with a high ranking pass defense, the Ravens did allow over 25.0 Fantasy points to QBs in three of their last eight games. Below par matchup with more risk than reward.
Matthew Stafford (DK – $5,200/FD – $6,500): Over his last six games, Stafford passed for 1,126 yards with only three TDs while gaining only 5.9 yards per passing attempt. The emptiness at the WR position has been a huge factor in his step back in production. In Week 5, he passed for 183 yards and two TDs against the Packers. Green Bay slipped to 15th in QB defense after allowing over 20.0 Fantasy points in five of their last six games. Matthews barely has a pulse, which makes him easy to avoid.
PLAYING TIME RISK
Drew Brees (DK – $6,500/FD – $8,100): This week the Saints don't need to play their starters with home-field already clinched for the playoffs. Their head coach stated that he would treat this week’s game like any other game while Vegas made them nine-point favorites, which seems low with a third-string QB starting for Carolina. I expect Drew to play a reasonable number of snaps but fall well short of posting a winning score with a second-half hook expected. Over the last four games, Brees only has three combined passing TDs. I'd leave this club in the bag.
Dak Prescott (DK – $5,800/FD – $7,300): Dallas can't help their playoff position this week, which points to an early night for most of their top players. Vegas has the Cowboys as a six-point underdog, which is enough info for a Fantasy owner to avoid Dak in Week 17. Hot and cold QB with minimal playing time expected this week.
Matt Ryan (DK – $6,300/FD – $8,500): Ryan should finish the year as the third highest scoring QB while delivering the second best season of his career (4,546 passing yards and 33 TDs). His completion rate (69.3) is elite with only six Ints on the year. Matt passed for 355 yards and three TDs earlier in the season against the Bucs. Tampa still ranks 28th defending QBs, but they held the QB position to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points in six of their last seven games. Tampa allows 8.2 yards per pass attempt with 31 passing TDs. Looks favorable based on season-long data, but the Bucs are an improved defense against the pass.
Aaron Rodgers (DK – $6,300/FD – $8,400): After an uninspiring season, Rodgers posted his best game (474 combined yards with four TDs) of the year in Week 15. His success was helped by his legs (5/32/2). Aaron has two passing TDs or fewer in 13 of his 15 games with three games with over 400 yards passing (one other game with over 300 yards passing). In Week 5, he beat the Lions for 442 passing yards and three TDs. Detroit is 18th vs. QBs with two teams earning 30+ Fantasy points. The Lions will give up passing TDs (29) while QBs gain 8.2 yards per pass attempt. Rodgers success last week's will command more interest from Fantasy owners this week, but his season's work suggests minimal impact upside.
Jared Goff (DK – $6,200/FD – $7,800): Goff drifted back to the 8th highest scoring QB in 2018 after posting four straight short games (12.35, 5.50, 16.05, and 20.40 Fantasy points). He still has a chance at 4,800+ passing yards and 30 TDs. Over his last four games, Jared only has two combined TDs and six Ints. In Week 7, he passed for 202 yards and two TDs vs. the 49ers. San Fran ranks 22nd against QBs with only one of their last nine opponents passing for more than 300 yards. Overall, QBs have 31TDs against the 49ers. The Rams need a win, but no Todd Gurley does downgrade his explosiveness. Goff has a donation smell to him.
Russell Wilson (DK – $6,100/FD – $8,300): The Seahawks locked up a wild card spot last week, but they could determine if they want to play at Dallas or at Chicago (possibly LA) in the playoffs. Vegas has the Seahawks as a 13.5-point favorite, which suggests Wilson has a chance to play a full game. Russell tied his career high in passing TDs (34) last week, but he doesn't have a rushing TD this year while falling short in passing yards (3,296). Russell has two TDs or more in 13 games with only one game with more than 300 yards passing. In Week 4, he passed for 172 yards and no TDs against the Cardinals. Arizona is 7th in QB defense with no QB scoring over 28.50 Fantasy points. This game projects to have a high volume of runs with minimum competition on the scoreboard. Only a steady option in the daily games.
Jameis Winston (DK – $6,100/FD – $7,600): Winston threw the ball well last week (336/1) against a strong pass defense. Over his last eight games, Jameis only has ten TDs with nine Ints with two games with over 300 yards passing. In Week 6, he passed for 395 yards and four TDs against the Falcons. Atlanta allows the four most Fantasy points to QBs with three teams scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Falcons held QBs to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points or fewer in four of their last six games. QBs have 29 passing TDs against Atlanta with seven teams passing for more than 300 yards. Seems viable, but the Falcons' defense did play better vs. the pass over the last six weeks.
Tom Brady (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,600): Brady is the 13th highest scoring QB in 2018, but he scored fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points in six of his last eight games. Tom has 4,105 passing yards and 27 TDs. The Patriots are undefeated at home, but Tom has eight of his 11 Ints in seven games with 13 TDs. He's passed for over 300 yards in five games. In Week 12, Brady threw for 283 yards and two TDs against the Jets. New York fell to 26th in QB defense after allowing over 20.0 Fantasy points to QBs in each of their last five games. The Jets allow 7.5 yards per pass attempt with QBs tossing 25 TDs. The Patriots will run the ball with success expected in rushing TDs.
Josh Allen (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,700): The Patriots and Lions limited Allen to short rushing yards in the last two games (5/50 and 9/16/1), which led to step back in value. Over the last five games, Josh passed for 1,018 yards with eight TDs and 381 yards on the ground. His completion rate (49.7) over this span invites many mistakes. In Week 13, he gained 366 combined yards with two TDs against the Dolphins highlighted by his success on the ground (9/135). Miami is 19th in the NFL against QBs with four of the last ten opponents scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. His ability to score rushing TDs and strength in rushing yards set a high floor with some explosiveness.
Nick Foles (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,600): Foles was indeed a value play at QB in Week 16. He finished with 471 yards and four TDs while completing seven passes over 20 yards. Over his last three starts for the Eagles, Nick passed for 1,075 yards and five TDs with strength in his completion rate (73.4). The Redskins is about league average defending QBs with two teams gaining over 30.0 Fantasy points. Washington allows 7.7 yards per pass attempt with 24 TDs. Like his path, but his success will take a step back in this matchup on the road with the Redskins wanting to slow down the pace of the game.
Derek Carr (DK – $5,100/FD – $6,800): The Raiders won two of their last three games with both wins coming at home. Carr finished his home season with 2,143 passing yards and 12 TDs with a 70.2 completion rate. In his seven road games, Derek only has seven TDs with only one game with over 300 yards passing. In Week 13, he passed for 285 yards and three TDs against the Chiefs. Kansas City allows the most Fantasy points to QBs with 12 of 15 teams scoring over 20.0 Fantasy points (four QBs scored over 30.0 Fantasy points). Tempting based on matchup, but I don't trust Carr's road resume.
Eli Manning (DK – $4,900/FD – $6,500): Eli posted his fourth game with over 300 yards last week (309/1), which was helped greatly by no sacks. Manning is set to gain over 4,000 passing yards while coming up short in TDs (19). He has two TDs or fewer in 13 of his 15 games while passing for 279 yards and one TD in Week 2 against the Cowboys. Dallas doesn't need the win. They should pull many of their starters, which will help Eli. No Odell Beckham is a strike for his upside. When a player is 0-15, I see no reason to invest another dollar in 2018.
Nick Mullens (DK – $4,700/FD – $6,700): Mullens saw his passing yards fall in his last three games (414/2, 332/2, 275/1, and 241/0). In his seven starts for the 49ers, Nick passed for 1,995 yards with ten TDs and seven Ints. The Rams climbed to 14th in QB defense after holding to QBs to fewer than 15.0 Fantasy points in each of their last four games. San Fran’s receiving core took a hit with Dante Pettis out for the season. Priced low enough with a viable option at TE, which may work up as a low-value combination.